News

Is Social TV in Your Future?

2/20/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Social TV is in its infancy, but
it has gone beyond its initial baby
steps. A recent Nielsen study found
that 70% of tablet owners
and 68% of smart phone
users say they use their devices
while watching TV.

We’ll see consumer interest
in social TV double
this year as the medium
morphs itself from oneway
broadcast to a community
platform where
viewers can interact not
only with each other, but
also with content owners
and advertisers. And
we won’t have to wait for
consumers to upgrade to
smart TVs that connect
to the Internet. Connected mobile
devices such as today’s tablets and
smartphones will be the catalyst of
this change.

THE PROMISE OF SOCIAL TV

At heart, social TV is not about the
latest smart TVs that can run applications,
but about complementing
the existing TV experience with portable
devices such as tablets, smart
phones or laptops. It is leveraging
popular social-media channels
such as Facebook and Twitter, letting
friends share comments about
programs and ads. Social TV offers
a new platform for brands to interact
directly with consumers who
check in to the shows and ads they
are watching. On the flip side, viewers
receive rewards, status or buying
incentives (coupons) for interacting
with the brands.

Advertisers are expected to spend
$62.4 billion on TV ads in 2012.
Meanwhile, online ads increased
15.6% to $30 billion in 2011, according
to media forecaster Magnaglobal.
Despite this, there is no good way
for advertisers to engage individual
viewers and reward them with
incentives as they watch live shows
and TV ads.

Ever since premium channels
came alive via cable and satellite,
people have been thinking of ways
to reinvent the TV experience. People
spend 17 hours a day with their
phones, and with tablets
like Apple’s iPad and
Amazon’s Kindle Fire are
growing in popularity, the
key is augmenting the TV
experience with these socalled
second and third
screens. Already, people
are watching TV while
interacting with their social
media accounts. The
new TV interface has expanded
to include tablets,
laptops, smartphones,
gaming consoles and who
knows what else down the
road. Lost the remote? The
phone is the new remote.

One of the challenges behind social
TV is finding a seamless backend
synchronization of mobile
devices and the TV. Fingerprinting
technology can pick up audio feeds
and tell you which program or movie
you’re watching; it can also ensure
that all input devices fall in sync
with the TV. And it performs this feat
in real time as the show airs.

NEW INTIMACY, NEW MODELS

Social TV will create new advertising
models. With a small app installed
from the App Store, for example, the
networks will have the intelligence
to know when viewers are engaged
online and which program they’re
watching right now.

A tweet could follow TV characters
commenting about merchandise in
real time: “Those shoes Rachael
wears are from Macy’s.” During a
commercial break, this can be followed
up with, “Click here to get a
20% Zappos coupon.”

TV still holds the largest share of
the ad budget and given what social
TV can offer, advertisers will line up
for this close proximity to fans.


Alper Turgut is CEO of Anvato, a
developer of broadcast-to-Web publishing
and distribution solutions.
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